More legal hassles landed on Eliot Spitzer’s doorstep. This time, the former “Sheriff of Wall Street” is being sued for online defamation by two former adversaries. William Gilman wants $60 million, and Edward McNenney is asking for $30 million. Both plaintiffs claim Spitzer, in an article published on Slate.com, disparaged their professional reputations.
How The Eliot Spitzer Defamation Lawsuit All Started
This investment defamation saga started nearly a decade ago. Way back when Ashley Dupre was an unknown escort – sans TMZ profile – and Eliot Spitzer a plucky Attorney General and potential VP candidate. The year was 2004 and according to “The Nation” magazine, Spitzer was “the single most effective battler against corporate abuses in either political party.”
But not everyone loved the aggressive New York lawyer. Many folks felt that Spitzer grossly expanded the role of the attorney general and unfairly targeted high-profile money makers and shakers. In 2005, the U.S. Chamber of Commerce president labeled Spitzer’s arguably hostile litigation as “the most egregious and unacceptable form of intimidation we’ve seen in this country in modern times.”
Spitzer seemed to gain strength from opponents’ vitriol and eked out a 2007 gubernatorial win. He had lasted three months in office before revealed dealings with a high-end prostitution ring forced his resignation. Supporters cried foul, insisting Spitzer’s grace-fall was payback perpetrated by crooked financiers. Opponents were glad to see the “tyrannical” Governor go.
The Spitzer Scandal Aftermath
Spitzer resigned on March 17, 2008. After leaving Albany’s oval office, judges overturned many of Spitzer’s white-collar cases; some just “went away.” Respectable media outlets published pieces on the disgraced Governor’s political demise. The field was split; some hypothesized the prostitution sting was retaliation for exposing the shadier side of high finance; others railed on Spitzer’s tactics and questioned the validity of his administration’s prosecutions.
In 2010, the Wall Street Journal published an antagonizing post-Spitzer-gate editorial, and the ex-governor responded with a literary middle finger on Slate.com entitled “They Still Don’t Get It.”
In the article, Spitzer mentioned Marsh & McLennan Companies — an insurance firm with whom his office had once worked out an $850-million settlement. In the opinion piece, Spitzer never mentioned Gilman and McNenney by name; though he did allude to “criminal conduct” by Marsh – their former employer.
Is The Claim Of Online Defamation Valid?
At this point, it is unclear how this lawsuit will play out. Sure, it’s criminal to call someone a criminal if they’ve been acquitted. However, Spitzer never mentioned the two plaintiffs by name. Furthermore, among other things, to emerge victorious in an online defamation lawsuit and receive compensatory damages, one must prove that their reputation has been damaged to the point of financial ruin. My gut is insisting that Gilman and McNenney aren’t in line at the public assistance office as a result of Spitzer’s700-word missive in the notoriously left-leaning Slate.
Spitzer doesn’t seem to be phased by the defamation claims, calling the lawsuit “entirely frivolous.” Slate is also named in the suit and their editor, David Plotz, agrees with the ex-governor. Plotz called the suit “baseless” and said he “looks forward to defending [Slate].”
Online defamation is not relegated to the famous and infamous. “Cyber libel” has increased exponentially over the past half decade. If you’re currently dealing with an online libel situation, Kelly / Warner Law can help make it go away – quickly. Contact us today to figure out if you have a valid online defamation case.